LOTI Eats | Alex Dilling at Hotel Cafe Royal (Revisit)

We return to the restaurant two years on from our first visit

We first visited Alex Dilling at Hotel Cafe Royal when it had just opened in the autumn of 2022, and it was clear to see that he was gunning for stars with his take on classical fine dining. Lo and behold, he went straight into the Michelin Guide the following spring with two shiny stars.

Now he’s switching things up ever so slightly, with a new eight-course tasting menu featuring dishes that reference certain points in his life, from his childhood in San Francisco to his experiences working alongside chefs like Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, and his time leading the kitchen at The Greenhouse. 

Eat This

It’s a tasting menu-only affair so you don’t really have much choice, apart from opting to add on any supplemental dishes and selecting from the three different types of bread on offer for the bread course (we went for the allium roll, the most popular, because who doesn’t love garlic?) 

The menu is bookended by two trios. You start with three intricate canapes of confit potato, sturgeon, almond and caviar; crispy ox cheek and sauce gribiche; and cured salmon with horseradish, and you finish with petit fours of mango ile flottante, Amalfi lemon tart and chocolate financier with dulce de leche – all pin sharp in both flavour and technique. 

The same goes for the courses in between to be fair; all the dishes are extremely accomplished but for us the highlights were the white asparagus with textures of smoked eel and a brown butter sauce; hunter’s chicken, layered with mushroom duxelles, chicken mousse and Alsace bacon and presented to the table like a prime lobster before returning, carved and dressed with Albufera sauce, stuffed morels, spinach ballotine and silky mash; and a chocolate dessert featuring caramel, Pedro Ximenez jelly, sourdough tuile, sourdough ice cream and sherry cream. 

If fine dining tasting menus make you break out in a sweat, fearing a parade of small portions that don’t add up to a satisfying meal, you needn’t worry – they feed you well at Alex Dilling and they even offer extra rounds of bread should you have room.

Drink This

This is a push-the-boat-out kinda meal so if you’re up for going really big, splash out on the wine pairing. We did a mini version, starting with a glass of champagne to go with the snacks, and then letting the sommelier pick out two more wines. We had a Grüner Veltliner from Rudi Pichler in Austria for the first half of the menu, the high acidity cutting through the richness of the first plates, followed by a spicier, juicier Old Vines Zinfandel from Sonoma County’s St Francis.

Why Go

This is a two-star restaurant for a reason, well for several reasons, like the use of the very highest quality ingredients, the expert skill in the kitchen from technical cookery to exquisite presentation, and attentive service. If you’ve got the budget for a special meal that’s going to leave you impressed, rather than scratching your head and trying to work out whether you actually like what you’ve eaten, Alex Dilling is the restaurant for you. 

68 Regent St., London W1B 4DY